26 August 2019

Serb Chetnik gathering in Bosnia's Visegrad raises alarm: Page 2 of 2

A threat to security

In a 2016 report, Bosnia's Ministry of Security identified Chetnik movements as posing a threat to security.

Certain Chetnik leaders have called for national and religious intolerance during speeches, the report said, adding that the movements "aggressively deny Bosnia and Herzegovina's legitimacy".

Their manifestations are at times violent and their goal is to unite all Chetnik movements, it warned.

For Reuf Bajrovic, founder of Bosnia's Civic Alliance political party, the Chetnik movement's ideology is similar to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) group.

"Generally, there is no difference between ethno-nationalism and religious-fanaticism in the Balkans. They are one and the same," he told Al Jazeera. "Chetniks are a perfect example of this as the Orthodox version of ISIS.

Activists, meanwhile, decried what they described as lack of concrete action against the movement, despite its dangerous ideology. 

Ismail Cidic, president of the Bosnian Advocacy Centre, stressed that a stronger reaction from international officials was needed.

"The Office of High Representative abstains from any serious action, despite the fact that it has a mandate and executive powers to implement the Dayton Peace Agreement [that ended Bosnia's war], preserve peace and ban those who threaten the security and peace of the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina," he told Al Jazeera.

For Marko Attila Hoare, a historian and associate professor at the Sarajevo School of Science and Technology, gatherings such as the one in Visegrad coincide with the rise of ultra-nationalism in the region.

"Ustasha elements have become more vocal and aggressive in Croatia," Hoare said, referring to the World War II Croatian fascist nationalists.

"The neo-Nazi Golden Dawn has been a significant presence in Greece for years. The far right is increasingly active at a time when the liberal world is apparently under siege," Hoare said.

"These Chetnik gatherings, by mobilising men along fascist lines, with uniforms and bloodthirsty songs, and heightening tension between Serbs and Bosniaks, aim to keep nationalist sentiment on the boil among Serbs and to heighten tension between Serbs and Bosniaks."[mr/aje]

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